Hands on with the Huawei MateBook X Pro and MateBook 14

MateBook X Pro

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today, Huawei introduced two new clamshell laptops: a refresh of the MateBook X Pro and the brand-new MateBook 14. I got to spend some time with both machines, and I can say that they're pretty great. After all, I've reviewed every one of Huawei's PCs, and none of them have ever let me down.

Both of these laptops are very similar. The MateBook 14 is a bit thicker and a bit heavier, and the port selection is different. For example, the two USSB Type-A ports on the MateBook 14 are USB 2.0 and 3.0, which is a bit disappointing. Remember, the MateBook lineup is supposed to sit between the mainstream MateBook D and the premium MateBook X. If the MateBook 14 is priced similarly to the MateBook 13 at $999, it shouldn't be using USB 2.0 at all.

MateBook 14

The screen resolution is lower as well, at 2160x1440. It's not that noticeable unless you look closely. The MateBook X Pro is 3000x2000 and it has a higher contrast ratio at 1500:1. Both screens look great, but as you'd expect, the flagship MateBook X Pro is the winner.

But using the MateBook X Pro was very similar to the one I reviewed last year. Not much has changed aside from the internals. It now has Whiskey Lake processors instead of Kaby Lake R, an Nvidia GeForce MX250 instead of an MX150, and a full 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 port.

MateBook X Pro

The keyboard feels comfortable to type on, although it's a bit shallower than some competitors at 1.2mm. There's also the pop-up privacy camera that's hidden in the keyboard. Unfortunately, this still means that the camera has a poor viewing angle for video calls.

Both machines have a fingerprint sensor in the power button, and I'll never stop pointing this out because it's one of my favorite features. It scans your fingerprint when you power on the machine, so you don't have to press the button again after it boots up. It's one of the most natural methods of biometric authentication that I've seen on a PC.

One thing that's new is Huawei Share 3.0, which lets you easily share media from your Huawei phone to the PC and vice versa.

The feature seems like it could really come in handy. I transfer files from my phone to my PC all the time, and I usually use cloud storage to do it. Other people just email the files to themselves. This is quick, easy, and intuitive.

There's also a three-finger screenshot feature, which is exactly what it sounds like. Swipe the display with three fingers, and it can take a screenshot of any portion of the screen that you want.

It was explained to me that this is there because many Windows users don't know how to take screenshots. Personally, it all seems like a bit much. Surely, Huawei could have just built in a feature where the three-finger swipe launches the Snipping Tool or Snip & Sketch.

I also asked Huawei why the firm isn't making a convertible. The company has a rapidly expanding series of clamshell laptops, to the point where it's getting confusing, and there's a single Windows 10 tablet, the MateBook E. There's nothing along the lines of a convertible laptop. I couldn't really get a straight answer, but I was told that convertibles really aren't innovative anymore; it's not clear why clamshells still would be.

MateBook X Pro

But still, these are phenomenal clamshell laptops. I just feel like adding things like Dolby Atmos audio and swipe gestures lend themselves more to a tablet form factor. The audio quality on these machines is clear and loud, but I don't watch movies on a clamshell laptop.

The other bad news is that I don't really know when these machines will be available. I was told that there will be an announcement in May regarding U.S. availability, and which configurations will be available.

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